I have owned my 2006 Toyota Avalon for nine years now and have never had any problems. I service it regularly and it still drives exceptionally well with 97,000 miles on it. Most of my driving is on California freeways or on long road trips in the American Southwest. This is the perfect road car with plenty of acceleration, comfort, excellent heater and a/c, and a great stereo. Visibility is excellent.
I put on expensive Good Year Eagle Sport tires (W speed rating) at 30,000 ,miles and this made the ride noticeably smoother and the cornering sharper than the original OEM tire. Despite Good Year's claims, these tires only really last ~20,000 miles, but the tradeoff is worth it. I put on slotted racing discs on the brakes and ceramic pads. This is a big car that drives like a midsize sports sedan. I push the car and it likes it. 85mph cruising speed @ 2500 rpm for miles across the American Southwest all day long in any season. My last big road drive was in 112 F weather Arizona and the a/c worked great; the car had no problems with the temperature.
I headed up the mountain to Prescott and got caught in a monsoon, a torrential thunderstorm going uphill at 4,000 feet. There was no place to pull over on the steep mountain road so I used the Avalon's very practical and well-engineered Manumatic transmission to hand shift through the deluge going up the steep and winding grade. No problem with traction, power, or anything else in this big thunderstorm with near zero visibility.
Update: I had an ignition coil fail at 100,000 miles and replaced all of them. This is a commonly reported problem on the 2006 Avalon at >95,000 miles. The replacement factory coils restored the acceleration and engine smoothness. The 2006 Avalon accelerates very quickly and smoothly in the 70-90 mph region. This makes it great for passing slower cars and trucks on freeways and the open road.
2016 is supposed to see a glut of two year old cars on lease returns. I may finally sell my 2006 Avalon and pick up a 2014 Avalon.
I can sell my 2006 Avalon for about $7,000 and pick up a 2014 Avalon for ~$25,000 from a rental car company. This means a net cost of around $18,000 for at two year old Avalon with about 26,000 miles on it. The Avalon has the Lexus E350 268hp engine, transmission, and suspension and so an $18,000 price is appealing given the performance and comfort of the Avalon. If I keep the 2014 Avalon for nine years as I have with my 2006 model, then my cost of ownership is $2,000 per year plus routine maintenance.
A new 2016 Camry with the same engine stickers at $32,000. However, the Camry lacks the solid ride and comfort of the larger Avalon. I have driven a few Camry rental cars while traveling and they just don't measure up to the Avalon.
Conclusion: A two year old low mileage Avalon is better and less expensive than a new fully loaded Camry.
I loved my Avalon, but now have lost all confidence in its reliability. On an out of state trip an oil hose developed a pin-hole leak. There was no indicator or light alert. We still have not gotten all repairs done, but will cost min $2500!!! (of course out of warranty with approx 101,000 miles).
The ride, the room, the gas mileage - and I thought the reliability. Alas, not so!
Notification of known problems that can cause so much damage! Also warning indicators if the oil runs low!!!!
Overall our experience has been very good with our 2006 Avalon. The ride has been very smooth and quiet and the pick-up is very good. This may be one of the fastest cars we've owned (with a six).
We love the power driver's seat, the sun-roof, the visibility is great. The interior design is clean, and free of all unnecessary garbage. The fit and finish are top notch.
Brakes are terrible. Feels you must smash pedal to floor to stop. They're undersized. Trans is smooth except first gear where it seems hard to get up to speed. Mileage down- once 30 mpg hwy, now 23.5 at 65 mph. Exterior needs strengthening. Dents easy. Front dips on hard cornering.
I purchased my car almost 3 yrs ago, everything was great until it reached 33000 miles; suddenly the engine produced loud noise, it was a complete loss of engine oil with no warning light in the dashboard. The dealer was very familiar with the problem before I even spoke. He asked me if it was the loss of engine oil. I would like Toyota to look into this problem. Otherwise the car is great and I love it.